The WA Criminal Code contains a number of offences relating to robbery. Robbery is known as a composite offence, as it involves an element of violent and an element of theft. Robbery offences are indictable offences and must be finalised in the District Court after the matter has proceeded through a committal hearing. Where the accused is an adult, the committal hearing takes place in the Magistrates Court. Where the accused is a juvenile, the committal hearing takes place in the Children’s Court.
Section 392 makes it an offence to steal a thing and immediately before or at the time of doing so use or threaten to use violence against a person or property in order to
- Obtain the thing being stolen
- Overcome resistance to the theft
This offence of robbery is punishable by imprisonment for 14 years. However, if the offence is committed in circumstances of aggravation, the maximum penalty if imprisonment for 20 years. If the accused is armed with a dangerous or offensive weapon or pretends to be so armed, the maximum penalty that applies is imprisonment for life.
Circumstances of aggravation
Section 391 sets out a number of circumstances of aggravation that may apply to a robbery charge and to other associated charges. Under the provision, a robbery charge is aggravated if immediately before or after the offence, the accused:
- Was in company with one or more other persons;
- Did bodily harm to a person;
- Threatened to kill a person;
- Threatened violent against a person who was 60 years old or older.
Assault with intent to rob
Section 393 makes it an offence to use or threaten violence to a person or thing in order to obtain the thing or to prevent resistance to its being stolen. This offence is punishable by a maximum of 10 years imprisonment. However, if the offence is committed in circumstances of aggravation or if the offender is armed with a dangerous or offensive weapon (or pretends to be), a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment applies. Where the offender is both armed with a weapon and the offence is committed in circumstances of aggravation, the maximum penalty that applies is imprisonment for life.
Section 396 makes it an offence to demand a thing with intent to steal it with the use of threats of injury or detriment if the demand is not complied with. This offence is punishable with a maximum of three years imprisonment.
Section 397 makes it an offence to demand anything from a person, whether in writing or orally, with threats of injury or detriment if the demand is not complied with. This offence is punishable by a maximum of 14 years imprisonment.
Section 398 states that it is an offence for a person, with intent to extort or gain a thing from a person:
- Accuses or threatens to accuse a person of committing an indictable offence; or
- Threatens that a person will be accused by another person of an indictable offence;
- Causes a person to receive a written accusation of committing an indictable offence.
If the accusation relates to an offence that carries life imprisonment or to the indecent assault of a male, the offence carries a maximum penalty of 20 years. In any other case, the maximum penalty is 14 years.
As robbery and associated offences are very serious and carry significant penalties, it is always advisable to obtain legal advice at the earliest opportunity if you have been charged with one of these offences.
If you require legal advice or representation in a criminal law matter or in any other legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.